Welcome to CR-CL’s Live Blog of the Ames Moot Court Semi-Finals!

Please scroll down for the live blog. We’ll start blogging shortly before 6:15 PM on March 12, 2019.

The Ames Competition is a long-standing tradition at Harvard Law School. The students have gone through numerous rounds of both brief writing and appellate advocacy to be here today. We are honored to have a number of sitting federal judges presiding over the competition as well.

As part of a more recent tradition, CR-CL will be live-blogging the event here on our Amicus Blog. Our bloggers tonight will be Erin Fowler and Norah Rast.

Below is the background information on the case from the Board of Student Advisors (BSA) which includes a full list of competing team members and the presiding judges for this evening. This information along with the teams’ briefs, can be found here.

Bond v. Anon, Inc. (March 12th, 6:15pm)

This case arises under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2333, which provides a civil remedy to the victims of international terrorism and their families. In 2015 plaintiff-appellant Margaret Bond’s husband was killed in the fictional country of Haprusa by a right-wing group called Haprusa First Forever (HFF). Bond’s complaint alleges that HFF used a social media site called Hardest Right, hosted by defendant-appellee Anon, Inc., a corporation in Ames, to pitch its agenda, recruit, raise funds, and communicate with its members. Anon makes money from Hardest Right through advertisements, sharing a portion of ad revenue with the hosts of pages on the site, including HFF. Bond alleges that Anon’s provision of social media services to HFF through Hardest Right, and its revenue sharing agreement, constitute material support to terrorism and thus render Anon liable for her injuries.

The district court dismissed Bond’s complaint on two grounds. First, the court held that the Anti-Terrorism Act requires a showing of proximate cause. Noting a circuit split over the standard, the court adopted the most stringent rule: that the plaintiff must show some direct relationship between the defendant’s conduct and her injuries. The court determined that under this standard, Bond’s complaint must fail.

Second, the court held that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, shields Anon from liability. Section 230 has been interpreted to give the operators of Internet sites that host content—including Internet service providers, website operators, bloggers, and social media platforms—immunity from suits based on the content of materials posted on those sites by third parties. The court held that the gravamen of Bond’s claim is that Anon is liable because it hosted HFF’s content on Hardest Right, and so her claim is barred by Section 230.

Bond challenges both determinations on appeal to the Ames Circuit.

Presiding Judges
The Honorable Denise Casper of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
The Honorable Wilhelmina Wright of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
The Honorable Steven Ecker of the Connecticut Supreme Court

The Carrie Buck Memorial Team (Appellant)
Sameer Aggarwal
Sarah Edwards
Sophia Harris-Dyer
Sarah Libowsky*
Rachel Miller*
Steven Palmer

The Patricia Roberts Harris Memorial Team (Appellee)
Alicia Alvero Koski
Charlotte Butash
Melanie Fontes*
Kelsey Fraser*
Hilary Hurd
Kate Peiffer

* Oralist